Saturday, November 26, 2011

Old Friend, Donnie (Doc) Lee

I first met Doc around 1958 when his older brother Bob bought a farm from my mom and dad. This old farm was around the Tillman area. We became close friends and ran togather through the years. I graduated from BCHS in 1962 and Doc a couple years later. When I was in the 11th grade a new girl by the name of Billie Day Zimmerman moved in and started school there. Her and Doc started going togather and after they graduated got married. At this time we went seprate ways for a few years, Doc went north for a while and eventually returned and went to work on the railroad. I went into the Army and after 4 years returned to Bell City. I married Dorothy (Payne) Long and we rented a small house in BC. Well about this time Doc rented a house in BC about 100 ft from where we lived. Around this time in our lives we couldn't do much of anything without a 12 pack of beer, that is after we had already drank the tavern dry. Well one day after a few suds we ran into another lifelong friend by the name of Howard (shotgun) Abner. It was in the spring/summer and frog season was in so we deceided to go frog gigging that night. Naturally we had to have the old 12 pk to get started. Around 9 or 10 oclock we set out to some places we knew would have frogs. Now Doc and Shotgun were pretty good at frogging. They would wade out in the ponds and gig back into the bank. When a snake would get into their light they would take the gig and throw him out toward the bank and yell Finney here one for you. They ran me around the pond banks about all night. We eventually got around 60 frogs and had sobered up enough to go home. We took the frogs to Doc"s and started cleaning them. Well we were not in to good of a shape and was not really paying attention to what was happening. Some of the frogs that were not dead got loose and us not knowing it hid in the house. Well a couple days later Billie Day was cleaning the house and started the vacum which set off some of the frogs to bellowing. Now this scared the hell out of Billie, so she proceeded to call Doc and chew him out. The best I can remember Doc had to move all the furniture and do some house cleaning. We all got a big laugh out of this. About this time me and Doc deceided to go into the hog business. We rented a couple acres and built some fence and a hog pen. Well we didn't dnow anything about hogs and bought an old sow that was getting ready to have pigs from Cal Hoover. (I have written about Cal before.) Now the old sow had a disease called rhinitis, her old nose was turned up and she couldn't gain a pound if you fed her lead. Well she had a fine litter of pigs, about 10 but they were just like the old sow as they couldn"t gain any weight. So one day while I was at work Doc deceided we should sell the old sow and pigs so he loaded them up and started to to the sale barn at Poplar Bluff. Now naturally he had to stop by the old water"n hole at the old Hilltop tavern. After a visit there he moved a little farther south to another place we visited quiet often. Well after a few at each place he finally got to the sale barn, with an old sow and one little pig. To this day he swears he don't know what happened to the other pigs. But I always thought he traded them off for something. His dad Ted Lee said we didn't know enough about hogs to go to the store and buy a pound of bacon. A couple years later Doc bought a place out in the hills west of Bell City and one day deceided to have a BBQ. So all that came brought something to contribute to the party. His uncle Red Sears and his wife were there and his wife could really hold her drinks. Well Dearl and Toots Hess were there and Toots said she was going to keep up with Reds wife on the drinks. So it wasn"t long until Tots was out laying in the back of their car with her toes pointed up. We BBQ"D two goats that day and had a blast along with a huge hangover. Doc had a bad tractor accident about 3 months ago and we about lost him a couple times but I always knew he was to tough for a little thing like to stop him. Doc if you read this I hope it brings back some good memories and a few good chuckles.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sucking Eggs

This is a very true story told by one of the participents. After I came home from Viet Nam and got out of the Army I was drinking quiet a bit and took a job as a bartender at the old Hill Top tavern at the intersection of highway 25 and 91 5 miles west of Bell City, Mo. This was back in 1971-72 time frame. One of my old school mates was also tending bar there. We were working for Pat Bollinger and she didn't care if we drank after we got off work just as long as we were not drinking on the job. My old school mate was a guy by the name of Milford Cooper. Now Milf ran the bar in the daytime and I got the night shift. Back then this was a very busy place for a honky tonk and it was always packed, worse on rainy days. Back then we had all our old drinking buddies come through the door. So I was off one night and Milf was off that day. We got pretty tanked up before the end of the day. About probably 7 or 8 o"clock some friends came in. There names were James and Wilma Watts. They hadn't been married to long. After a few rounds and a few tear jerkers on the juke-box, the conversation turned to how some people could down a raw egg real easy. Well one challenge turned to another and finally we sent across the street for a couple dozen eggs. This was when the old cafe was still open where everyone went after drinking thereselves into a stuper. Well we got the eggs and another round of beer and proceded to try our hand at sucking eggs. Watts tried a couple times and finally got part of one down and the same thing with Wilma. I had egg yellow and white all over me. Milford tried to get part of one down, he tried it straight out of the shell, he tried knocking a small hole in the top of the egg and sucking it out, he tried mixing it in his beer, he tried putting lots of salt and pepper on it and nothing he done would let him get part or any of the egg down. He finally got mad and stuck a whole egg in his mouth and when he chomped down on that dam egg the sum bitch exploded and blowed egg all over the ones close to us and all over the table, floor and anything within ten foot of him. We looked like a bunch of idiots when it was all over. I am sure we all woke up with a huge hangover the next day, but at the time we called ourselves having fun. We were close friends back then and to this day we are still very close. We are older now and have a little more sence, I THINK. Will write more on the old HIll Top bunch later. I have many more stories about those days.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

THE OLD LIAR'S BENCH

Everyone from Bell City knows what the old liar's bench is, for those that dont Ill splain it. The old liar's bench was an old long church type pew bench that sat in front of the pool hall/cafe. Here, mostly men would gather and shoot the bull. This was a daily and nightly thing just different folks at different times. One of the regulars was a guy named Ed Cockrell. He was a single guy and worked in Bloomfield in the county government offices. There was people like Big Boy Casey, my dad Raymond Finney, Henry McCulley and a guy I have weritten about before Herb Hoover just to name a very few that participated in the discussions and pulling pranks on others.
Back in the early 60's there was lots of rummors oing around the county of sightings of mountain lions in the area. Everyone was talking about seeing this or that. This all went on in the summer, fall and starting of winter. Now Bell City School had a superintendent by the name of Homer Kinder and he was very much involved with feeding the frenzy. He was always talking about someone seeing something.
Well after a very busy week of things being spotted all over the county, it was time for the men on the liar's beench to get involved. The township road district had been putting down some new red clay gravel on old highwas 25 which is still gravel. Now if you have nver driven in new gravel it will litterally suck your car and there you will be stuck as they say "in the mud". So Ed Cockrell and a couple others got the idea one wet winter night to call Homer and tell him about a Mountail Lion beeing treedout in the Swan Pond bottoms of highway 25. So Homer grabs his hat, he always wore aa hat and said come on Kenny,his step son "Kennith Hedges" lets get out there and see the lion. So here they went down old 25 Homer going much faster than he should on a gravel road when all of a sudden he comes upon the new gravel. He got about a 150 feet out in the gravel before it bogged him down. Well Homer and Kenny got out and had to walk to the nearest house they could find with a phone, as not all folks had a phone in those days. Homer called someone who in turn got in touch with I think Herb Hoover and asked im to go pull Homer out of the mud. Well Herb goes downtown and tries to get some of the liars bench people to go with him. Naturally Ed declined to go and when Herb left to retrive Homer, Ed went home. Ed denied he ever set Homer up but later on in life he would sit around and laugh about it.
This was just another night on the old Liar's Bench where I spent much time. And excuse my typing tonight I can't hit the right keys.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow Storm 1967

It is snowing pretty hard here in Bloomfield at the present. We have already got about 2-3 inches. I dont think we are supposed to get much more. I am not crazy about this stuff anyway. It brings back to many, not so good memories. Like when I was a kid. We were as poor as old "Jobs Turkey". In the winter dad didn't get to work to much and things were tough. Snow ment less with each passing day. But we weren't by ourselves, a lot of families were in the same boat. Winters were hard on a lot of people back then. The cotton patch was a way of life for many. Hard and not to rewarding. So I joined the Army in 1967. I had been out of school for 5 years already and needed some change.
I took basic training in Ft Leonard Wood Mo. I really didn't mind it too much. I was about "well a lot lighter" than I am now and the training came easy for me. Basic was a breeze. Then I got sent to Ft Devens Mass for training in the Army Security Agency where I met some buddies that like me wasn't to smart when it came to things Military. So one cold night while we were having a snow storm we were put on guard duty. Now we were guarding the Ammo dump. We were a good 1/8 mile from any of the bunkers where the ammo was stored and it was 4 below zero with a good wind blowing. Well one of us guys got the great idea that we would build a fire, so we got out and picked up some firewood. We really had a good fire going and it felt good. We didn't even need our gloves and some of the other clothing to stay warm. Well about this time the sargeant of the guard and the officer of the day made their rounds to see how things were going. When they got to our post these sons a bitches went nuts. They, naturally made us extinguish the fire and proceeded to eat the ass out of our uniforms. What do you bastards think you are doing the sargeant yelled, blow this post off the map. Get your gear and report to the CO ASAP. We were in deep trouble but it was 4 below and we really didm't give a damn. The CO chewed for an hour and threatened to court martial us. He said if we werent headed for Viet Nam we would probably be headed for the stockade. We did get an article 15 which at the time cost each one of us 30 dollars and 14 days extra duty plus restriction for 14 days. Looking back now and knowing how cold it was that night I think I would still do the same thing. We were not close enough to cause any damage and we stayed warm for a while. I don't know what happened to the other guys after that but for me I stayed warm on one of the coldest nights of my life.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Bell City Public School

My education started in 1950, first grade, Bell City School. Here I met some life long friends that I still stay in touch with. One of my fondest memories is a friend Virgil Hampton. When I started school we were aS poor as old "Jobs" turkey. Virgil and me became the best of friends. He got to go home for lunch as he only lived about two blocks from school. Not long after we started he asked me to go home with him for lunch. Well this sure beat and old brown bag lunch because we didn't have money to eat in the lunch room. His mother would always have a good hot lunch for the kids. Lunches I will never forget. This is also where I met the twins Tim and Jim Bollinger, now the teacher had to cut a little snip of hair from one of them so she could tell them apart. Here I also met Gary Warren, David Dalton, Donnie Wilkerson and Ivan Max Dunn. There were some old girls in our class to. I remember Stephen Peal, Lou Allice Marie Ellsworth, a girl named Winnie Ward and pleanty more.
I didn't do very well in school because I just didn't like it. I received most of my learning after graduating high school where I had a job that required me to correspond with HQ and here I honed my verbal and typing skills. Something that helped me in the military with the MI division.
I remember one spring day I was in the 7th grade. Now back then marbles were pretty poplar but we were't allowed to play "keeps" where the one that won the round got to keep the opponents marbles. Well we got into a game of "keeps" one day with Mr Croy a teacher. Needless to say we got caught. Larry Lancaster, another I can't recall and myself got to go visit Mrs Thompson who very quickly bent us over a desk and applied the old paddle. I don't know what happened to Mr Croy but we never played "keeps" again.
Well I finally made it through the eighth grade and finally to high school. Here is where the fun began.
Here I became running buddies with Carl Neldon, Harold Nichols and Donnie Wilkerson. We were always getting into something. Donnie had an old 1950 Studebaker car that you couldn't keep brakes on Carl had an old 50 model Plymouth that had a rod Knocking, Harold got to drive his parents car and I had an old pair of worn out brogan shoes. But we sure had some times with what we had.
In high school I met and became pals with guys like Milford Cooper, Harold Hunt, Gary Strobel, and the one and only Bob Nesler who deceided to end his education by lighting up in study hall, caused quiet a commotion.
We had an older teacher by the name of Mr Burge that was small in stature and not very strong. He taught science. So naturally Milf, Harold and Gary was always giving him hell. There was an old 50lb weight in the sceince room so Milf or Harold would pick it up and place it on Mr Burges roll call book so he couldn"t call the roll, or would lock him in the storage room where about the end of class they would let him out and explain to him that the lock got stuck which he bought for a long time until the principal caught them and stopped the little prank. Milford came down with a terrible allergy one day and started sneezing, we lost count around 50 sneezes which were mostly manufactured, so Mr Burge would tell Milf to get him a drink to stop the sneezing and Milf would go get him a drink where he would stay and stay and stay finally returning to class. He would sit down and Mr Burge thinking the sneezing was over with would start the lesson, he would say a couple words and Milf would sneeze. This went on for an hour until the bell rang. The science room had some gas valves for expirments and if you turned the gas on and let it out for a few seconds and then fired it up it would cause a big explosion. This was Harold and Gary's favorite thing to do which caused "I think I remember right" Harold to get expelled from school.
I was also in the senior play and had the part of a sheriff in which I had to chase a guy off stage. Well the day of the play we were at the gym and Carl Neldon was lifting weights and one of them fell off the weight bar and right on my big toe. I had to go to the doctor and have a cast put on my foot but still got to chase the guy off stage which was funny to the audience. Also one day while planning the play we needed a laundry basket for a prop so 6 of us went into the principles office and got permission to leave and look for a basket which we never found but the water was sure nice at the lake where we spent the day. We were all loaded up in Joyce Kirby's car. Nice Day THIS WILL BE THE FIRST OF OTHER STORIES ABOUT BCHS

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lester Swindell

I guess I first met Lester back in the late 50's, he ran a little cafe in Bell City. Back then Bell City School had an open campus and everyone got to leave campus and go up town and get their lunch. Back then the old town was booming. At lunch all of the towns cafe's became real busy. Then the people elected some very intelligent people to run the local school and they closed the campus and forced the kids to eat in the school cafeteria. This act helped kill the downtown area of Bell City and caused some of the businesses that depended on this trafic to close. This is one of the worst things to happen to a small town. Anyhere it happens the same results take place. No hustle and bustle and soon no thriving downtown. Well documented. Anyway enough politics.
Lester and Wanda, his wife had the best bologna sandwiches in town, everyone ran up town to get one of these sandwiches which I think at the time cost a dime and a soda for a nickel. This made a good lunch. I know a lot of kids at the time that enjoyed this linch. Lester also had pinball machines a juke box and repaired shoes in the back of the cafe. He also had an afternoon paper route, him and his boys David and Keith would deliver the paper all over town. Lester did whatever he could to make a living in a small dying town.
I guess this is the first place I met Jake Fisher, the same Jake I have written about in another story. Jake would come over to Lesters and order a cup of coffee. He would tell Lester or Wanda to fill his cup full because he didn't use cream. Jake really enjoyed Lesters coffee.
Lester was one of the oldtimers, he wasn't a mean guy but would fight at the drop of a hat. I never witnessed him fighting but from the talk of the older guys most people knew he was pretty tough.
A lot of us that considered Lester an old timer are now getting to that stage of our lives.
Lester and Wanda had three kids, as mentioned before two boys David and Keith. They also had a daughter Sharon who sadly died early in life. This was one of Bell City's older family"s. Not to many left these days.
I only live about 15 miles from Bell City and nowdays I don't know half of the people that live there. NEXT GENERATION PLEASE

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bell City's WESLEY WRIGHT

I first met Wesley in about 1960. He was running around Bell City and ing with a girl by the name of Frankie Jackman. Wesleys first name was John so naturally everyone connected him and Frankie to the song Frankie and Johnny and old tune out in the late 50' early 60's. The first time I met him he had had a few to many, par for the course in old Bell City. Well Frankie was a very good looking girl and all the guys were after her so this little romance didn't last long.
Wesley later started going with a girl by the name of Pat Liggett, they eventually got married and had three kids, two girls and a boy.
I started running around with Wes in my senior year of high school. He was about 4 years older than me. We got along good and became the best of friends. Now Wesley was the town hotrodder. One time he got pretty juiced up and was comming back in to town real fast and lost control of his 1956 Ford. A beautiful two door hardtop I think it was red and black, anyway he wrapped it around a tree at the edge of town. Luckily I wasn't in the car or I would have surely been killed because when it hit the tree it spun around the tree a few times, it hit directly behind the right front tire.
Another time we were out partying and Wes liked to get in the gravel and do a few do-nuts. Well this time he did one to many and ran off in the ditch alongside the road. He walked back up to Square Morse's little country liquor store and got Herb Hoover to pull him out of the ditch. Herb went down and hooked onto Wes's car and pulled him out, unhooked the chain and started to leave. Wes got into his car made a few more do-nuts right off in the ditch on the other side of the road. Well this made Herb mad so he just drove off and left him in the ditch.
Another time Wes was juiced and in town showing off. Squealing his tires and hotrodding all over town. Well Max Bollinger a local business man was up on top of his store rapairing his roof when Wesley drove by his store, Max, already mad threw the wet tar mop on top of Wesleys car. Well this made Wesley mad and he stopped and motioned for Max to come down off the roof. So here came Max and he met Wes's right fist and I think the law locked Wes up at that time.
One time I was out having fun in my first car a 1952 Buick Dyna-Flo 2 door hard-top. A pretty car but not one for a teenager and the transmission didn't last long. I got stuck between two hills west of Bell City and had to walk home. So the next day I asked Wes to go out and pull me into town. We get out there and hooked the chain to the cars and he started to pull me. Now Wes had a 1962 Ford 390, 4 speed so naturally he had to show out. He would get over in the loose gravel and floor his car and throw rocks all over my car. When we got to Bell City all the lights and the windshield were broke. Wes didn't give a damn we just loaded in his car and went to Perkins and started partying.
One Saturday Wesley, big Red Cody and myself left Bell City and went over to Sikeston to see Wes's cousin Frank Wright. We stopped at a very fancy tavery called Wagon Wheel. We had a few and Wes and myself decieded to go to Franks house. Cody said he would stay there. We got in Wes's car and started to back out of the tavern and into the side of a big black fellows car. Well this other guy got scared and took off one direction and we took off the other. Now the city of Sikeston had been doing some sewer work and had dug a trench across one of the streets we were going down. We hit this trench and the beer bottles broke the windshield and the front tires each went in a different direction. So we had to walk back up to the tavern where we left Cody who gave us one of the worse cussings a man could give, I got my brother in law to take us back to Bell City.
Later I moved to St Louis and had an appartment and a job there. Well Wes and Pat had a falling out and he came to St Louis and stayed with me for a while. Then another friend Gary Bright came and stayed with us and got a job with Western Electric. We would work in the day and party at night. One day Wes got off work early and was already drunk by the time Gary and me got home. He was passsed out on the couch. Now there was an old small gas stove pretty close to the couch so Gary and me decieded to light the thing and warm Wesley up. So we lit the stove and left to eat supper and do our daily rounds. This was in the middle of the summer. When we came home Wesley gave us the damndest talking to I ever had.
One other thing about Wesley, he could eat more chicken than anyone I have ever seen. He would have chicken noodle soup for breakfast, chicken pot pie for lunch and fried chicken for supper. He loved his chicken.
Sadly, we lost Gary many years ago and just this past year Wes died. So I am the only one left to tell this story. We sure had a good time one summer in the mid 60's. So guys if it is possible for you to know about this story I hope I have told it right. Miss you guys. Curt